Instructions for authors of editorial, focus, perspective, and commentary articles

General Information for Editorial, Focus, Perspectives, and Commentary Articles

The Editorial, Focus, Perspective, and Commentary sections of Science Translational Medicine (SciTM) feature short, lively articles that present the author's opinion and insights regarding current research or other topics of interest to translational scientists. The STM Editors invite most Focus, Perspective, and Commentary content, but we welcome unsolicited articles as well as suggestions for topics and authors.

Editorials are short, invited opinion pieces that discuss an issue of immediate importance to the translational research community. Editorials should have fewer than 1000 words total, no abstract, a minimal number of references (definitely no more than 5), and no figures or tables (although they do have a photograph of the author as an illustration).

Focus articles are short, timely pieces that spotlight either recent research findings or policy issues related to translational research (for example, regulatory, funding, educational, or legislative discussions). Focus articles should not exceed 2500 words total (including abstract, main text, references and figure legend). They should have a short pithy title, a one-sentence abstract, no more than 10 references, and one figure (with figure legend) or table.

Perspectives discuss one or a cluster of recently published papers or a current research topic of high interest in which an author's perspective sheds an incisive light on key findings in translational research that are of broad interest to the translational medicine community. These articles typically have one or two authors whose task is to inform our interdisciplinary readership about exciting scientific developments in the author's area of expertise. Perspectives should discuss the research from both a basic and clinical viewpoint and should describe the implications of the research for translational medicine. Other appropriate topics include discussions of methods, books, or meeting highlights. Perspectives are usually between 2000 and 4000 words total (including abstract, main text, references and figure legends). They should have a short pithy title, an abstract of 50 words or less, no more than 35 references, and 1 or 2 figures (with figure legends) or tables.

Commentaries present in-depth analysis of current issues of direct interest to the translational medicine community such as policy, funding, regulatory, educational, and legislative issues, new institutes, careers etc. Commentaries should not exceed 3000 words total (including abstract, main text, references and figure legends). They should have a short pithy title, an abstract of 50 words or less, no more than 35 references, and one or two figures (with figure legends) or tables.

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Writing your Editorial, Focus, Perspective or Commentary Article

Format Editorial, Focus, Perspective, and Commentary articles should be concise. Editorial, Focus, Commentary, and Perspective articles have an upper limit of 1,000, 2,500, 3,000, and 4,000 words, respectively, and we recommend citing no more than 5 (Editorial), 10 (Focus), or 35 (Perspective and Commentary) references. Because we want to make these articles visually engaging as well as informative, we include one figure in Focus, Commentary, and Perspective articles. Our illustrator will redraw your figure, so it does not have to be professionally processed.

Title Titles should be informative, thought-provoking, and inviting and should be no more than 100 characters in length (including spaces).

Abstract Editorials do not have an Abstract. Focus articles have a one-sentence Abstract. Perspectives and Commentaries have a 2- to 4-sentence Abstract. Abstracts are important because they will be visible in PubMed and thus will lead readers to your articles.

Body of text The ideal Editorial, Focus, Perspective, or Commentary begins with an introductory paragraph that immediately presents the issues under discussion in a way that captures the reader's interest. If the Focus or Perspective discusses a particular research paper, that paper should be mentioned in this first paragraph. The introduction should be general enough to orient the reader not familiar with the specifics of the field being discussed. Here, and throughout the article, the author should avoid the jargon and special terms of his or her field or system. If the language of specialists is necessary, define terms for the general reader.\ The body of the text should, in the limited space available, develop the discussion in a lively manner. By "lively" we don't mean hype and oversimplification. Rather, the editors seek clear, declarative writing that avoids the passive tense, tangled constructions, and needless detail. Avoid asides that interrupt the flow of the text. Section headings can be used when necessary and should be short and snappy (no more than 30 characters).\ The final paragraph should draw the piece to a concise conclusion, without simply restating the text. It should be a conclusion and not a summary. Tell the reader about future prospects and implications. What are the unanswered questions? Where is the field going? What are the implications for translation medicine?

References and notes References should be cited by consecutive numbers in the text and given in a full format (see Citation format, below). Avoid lengthy notes and details. Files for submission Please submit a Text-only file in .docx, .doc, or .rtf format and a single file in PDF format that contains the text, figure captions, references, and all tables. See below for instructions for electronic transmission of manuscripts and for details on preferred file types and file naming.

The figure The figure should illustrate the essential message of the article. It can be a drawing, graph, chart, table, or photograph. The point is to catch the eye while informing the reader. You can submit finished artwork, a sketch, or even a rough written idea for the figure. With the help of our art department, we will refine, redraw, and modify the figure as needed. See accompanying instructions for submission of electronic art. Figure legends should begin with a short, snappy title (no more than 30 characters), include a brief description of the figure, and define all abbreviations (unless they are already defined in the text).

The editor's role We expect that authors will do their best to meet our criteria for Editorial, Focus, Perspective, and Commentary articles, but authors should be prepared for extensive editing, perhaps even rewriting, if the editors find it necessary. The editors will show authors the editorial changes, and authors will be asked to check the edited manuscripts and galleys before publication of the article.

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Author Checklist

  • Have you included an Abstract?
  • Are all authors and their affiliations listed in the correct format and the corresponding author indicated?
  • Have you included at least one figure or table or a figure sketch, idea, or concept?
  • Have any of the figures been previously published?
  • Have you included legends for all figures and tables?
  • Does your article cite 5 (Editorials), 10 (Focus), 35 (Perspectives and Commentaries) or fewer references?
  • Are the references complete? Each citation should include the full article title, journal title, journal volume, year of publication, and first and last pages. Please include all authors (no et al.).

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Instructions for the Submission of Text and Figures

Please submit your text and figures through the Science Journals Submission and Information Portal at It is not necessary to name your files in any particular way as our system will rename them upon submission.


Text files must be in Microsoft Word .docx format. Include text, as well as any figure captions, references and all tables, in this single text file.


Figure files should be compatible with Macintosh computer Adobe Illustrator (Version 3.0 to 9.0) and Adobe Photoshop (version 2.0 to 6.0). Figures prepared in PowerPoint will be redrawn by our art department to achieve the necessary resolution. Our submission system can handle files up to 25 MB. We can accept figures in the following formats (in descending order of preference).

  • Illustrator EPS (Encapsulated Postscript) or AI (Adobe Illustrator)

  • Photoshop PSD (Photoshop - with active text layers, do not flatten and do not rasterize text layers) PDF, TIF, PicT, JPG, GiF

  • Files prepared in Corel Draw or Macromedia Freehand, which must be saved as EPS files

  • PowerPoint PPT files

Supplementary Materials

Text and figures. Although Supplementary Materials are discouraged for Perspectives and Commentary, if necessary, they can include materials and methods, other text, tables and figures plus captions and should be prepared and submitted as a separate .docx file. Figures should be embedded in the file.

Video and audio files. Acceptable formats for videos or animations are Quicktime, MPEG, and Flash. Keep videos short and the display window small to minimize the file size of the video. Supply caption information with the videos. Edit longer sequences into several small pieces with captions specific to each video sequence. Acceptable formats for audio files are .WAV, .AIFF and .AU. Supply caption information with the audio files. Upload these file types as Auxiliary Supplementary Materials on our submission site. Our system can handle files up to 25 MB.

Other files types. All other file types can be uploaded as Auxiliary Supplementary Materials on our submission site. Our system can handle files up to 25 MB.

If your files are extremely large or if you have other questions, please email the Science Translational Medicine editors at

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Citation Style

References and Notes are numbered in the order in which they are cited, first through the text, then through the table and figure legends. List a reference only one time. Any references to in-press manuscripts or personal communications should be given a number in the text and placed, in correct sequence, in the references and notes. We do not allow references to unpublished data in support of claims or conclusions; necessary data should be included in the manuscript, its Supplementary Materials, or an approved archival database.

The abbreviations for journal names are taken from the Bibliographic Guide for Editors and Authors (BGEA) or Serial Sources for the BIOSIS Data Base (BIOSIS), a more recent publication. When in doubt, provide the journal's complete name. Spell out cities that are listed after a journal name: Acta Zool. (Stockholm). Do not use op. cit., ibid., 3-m dashes, en dashes, or et al. (in place of the complete list of authors' names). For author names with Jr. or 2nd, etc. see example number 4 in the Journals section. Publisher's names are given in shortened form. "Press" and the like are usually dropped, except Academic Press ("Academic" is an adjective), University Park Press, CRC Press, MIT Press, and Cambridge Univ. Press (for university presses, to distinguish them from the university itself). Only one publisher's location is needed. A few world-renowned cities (for example, Amsterdam, London, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Baltimore) can be listed without state or country; less well-known cities and those with names that could be confused take state abbreviations (Cambridge alone for the city in the U.K., but Cambridge, MA). Inclusive pages numbers or chapter number must be given when specific articles are referred to within an edited volume.


Please use full citations in the following format:


  1. E. J. Neer, T. Kozasa, Sites for Gα binding on the G protein β subunit overlap with sites for regulation of phospholipase Cb and adenylyl cyclase. J. Biol. Chem. 273, 16265-16272 (1998).
  2. D. J. Mangelsdorf, C. Thummel, M. Beato, P. Herrlich, G. Schutz, K. Umesono, B. Blumberg, P. Kastner, M. Mark, P. Chambon, R. M. Evans, The nuclear receptor superfamily: The second decade. Cell 83, 835-839 (1995).
  3. J. J. Tesmer, R. K. Sunahara, A. G. Gilman, S. R. Sprang, Crystal structure of the catalytic domains of adenylyl cyclase in a complex with Gs·GTP-a-S. Science 278, 1907-1916 (1997).
  4. J. D. Brown, M. R. DiChiara, K. R. Anderson, M. A. Gimbrone, Jr., J. N. Topper, MEKK-1, a component of the stress (stress-activated protein kinase/c-Jun N-terminal kinase) pathway, can selectively activate Smad2-mediated transcriptional activation in endothelial cells. J. Biol. Chem. 274, 8797-8805 (1999).
  5. J. Burton, C. K. Goldman, P. Rao, M. Moos, T. A. Waldmann, Association of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 with the multichain high-affinity interleukin 2 receptor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87, 7329-7333 (1990).
  6. A. Miyawaki, R. Tsien, Monitoring protein conformations and interactions by fluorescence resonance energy transfer between mutants of green fluorescent protein. Methods Enzymol., in press.
  7. F. Watson, R. S. Kiernan, D. G. Deavall, A. Varro, R. Dimaline, Transcriptional activation of the rat vesicular monoamine transporter 2 promoter in gastric epithelial cells: Regulation by gastrin. J. Biol. Chem. Papers in Press, published 2000 as 10.1074/jbc.M006697200.
  8. K. L. Clark, P. B. Larsen, X. Wang, C. Chang, Association of the Arabidopsis CTR1 Raf-like kinase with the ETR1 and ERS ethylene receptors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 95, 5401-5406 (1998) [published erratum appears in Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 95, 9060 (1998)]. [style for published erratum]
  9. L. C. Cantley, PI3K pathway. Sci. Signal. (Connections Map in the Database of Cell Signaling, as seen February 2001), [style for citing a pathway in the Database of Cell Signaling at Science Signaling]
  10. E. Canalis, Notch signaling in osteoblasts. Sci Transl. Med. 1, 2pe3 (2009). [style for citing a SciTM article that is in Volume 1, issue 2 and is the third Perspective in the year 2009. Use ra for research articles and cm for Commentary.]

When published in Science Express but not yet in print:
W. Jones, B. Smith, Location and function of DNA binding proteins. Science 20 December 2000 (10.4444/science.1054678).

When published in Science Express and in print:
W. Jones, B. Smith, Location and function of DNA binding proteins. Science 252, 1056 (2001); published online 20 December 2000 (10.4444/science.1054678).

Technical reports

  1. D. E. Shaw, Technical Report CUCS-29-82 (Columbia University, New York, 1982).
  2. F. Press, A Report on the Computational Needs for Physics (National Science Foundation, Washington, DC, 1981). [unpublished or access by title]
  3. Assessment of the Carcinogenicity and Mutagenicity of Chemicals (WHO Technical Report Series No. 556, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 1974).


Title of Symposium Published as a Book, sponsoring organization, city and state of meeting, inclusive dates and year (publisher, publisher's city and state, year).

Paper presented at a meeting (not published)

M. Konishi, paper presented at the 14th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Anaheim, CA, 10 to 14 October 1984. [sponsoring organization should be mentioned if it is not part of the meeting name]

Theses and unpublished material

  1. B. Smith, thesis, Georgetown University, Washington, DC (1973).
  2. J. A. Norton, unpublished material.


  1. A. M. Lister, Fundamentals of Operating Systems (Springer-Verlag, New York, ed. 3, 1984). [third edition]
  2. J. B. Carroll, Ed., Language, Thought and Reality, Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1956).
  3. R. Davis, J. King, in Machine Intelligence, E. Acock and R. Michie, Eds. (Wiley, New York, 1976), vol. 8, chap. 3.
  4. D. Curtis, in Clinical Neurology of Development, B. Walters, Ed. (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1983), pp. 60-73.
  5. Principles and Procedures for Evaluating the Toxicity of Household Substances (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 1977). [organization as author and publisher]